Borrowing a line from HBR’s Guide for Women at Work – “if they’ve heard your name when you meet them, they already know who you are”. This gem is in the chapter on mentoring, and more specifically men mentoring women and gaining visibility within strategic networks.
If you’re a faithful reader of my Build Your Dream newsletters/blog then you likely have more than a glimmer of where I’m going on this…and it’s not with instructions on how to secure a coffee date with a super valuable connection (i.e. your boss’s boss or potential employer or customer or investor or sponsor).
Visibility within strategic networks (or with a single strategic contact) comes from seeing or hearing your name. Perhaps once, but more than likely, multiple times. The name recognition that precedes the actual IRL meeting and ignites the “oh! I’ve heard about you” or “I recognize that name” response can come from seeing your name:
- As the author of a memo, or contributor to an article, or co-author of a report, or
- On a project team list or roster of volunteers, or committee members, or sign-in sheet of attendees or meeting minutes.
Yeah, stuff you can proactively control – by way of example (just to spell it out), if you did the bulk of the work writing a memo to your boss’s boss’s boss, well, put your name at the top. First for the recognition of who did the work, second for the strategic networking.
Your name still precedes you. “Paper” (or the paperless version of paper documents) does get circulated. While there are times when getting your name out there is entirely outside of your control (i.e. that colleague who routinely forgets to mention the names of team members in congratulatory speeches or more likely, not being privy to conversations occurring behind closed doors) – some of this visibility is entirely within your control – so get your name on the page (or list) and out there.
Aruba’s Chief Innovation Officer, Varelie Croes shared a networking gem in Build Your Dream Network. Before she was immersed in the innovation ecosystem, Varelie was a tax attorney – first in Aruba then in New York City. To advance her career, Varelie knew she had to get her name out (and across) the firm – so she raised her hand, taking on projects outside of the scope of her client work (from speech writing to organizing events) that put her name in front of a broader spectrum of decision makers.
From the pages of #BYDN:
My friend Varelie Croes is a former director of international tax financial services at PricewaterhouseCoopers. During her eleven years at the firm, she organized many events and ran a number of different initiatives for one simple reason: it was a great way to meet people and connect with leadership in the firm. Varelie knows that her volunteer efforts expedited her career trajectory within PwC. Once colleagues worked with her on a project (even a voluntary one), Varelie noticed she was being requested for more projects and staffed on the best deals; plus she was invited to an increasing number of events typically limited to more senior leadership. Her participation also resulted in more external speaking opportunities, where her expertise (and PwC’s reputation) could really shine. Varelie’s promotion to director in 2003 was a “fast-tracked” one—an outcome she credits to the network she built within the firm.
Now think about how you…engage on Slack with your co-workers or the comments you leave on a friend’s LinkedIn update. How is your online game adding relationship building value to your name?